Poverty, PISA and the power of working families

Posted by on Sep 14, 2014 in EduPolicy

Well, this week the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of its world-famous study, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for 2012.  The release of this data causes flurry of activity and commentary in the educational world because this data ranks nations against each other in student performance across various academic disciplines.

Now, before I comment on what the analysis means for the United States, I’d like to shed some light on who OECD is and why we have to take their results and framing with a grain of salt.  The organization is an offshoot of the Marshall Plan, the package of economic aid offered by the United States to Europe after WWII, with the hope of protecting markets from communism, which was thought to be looming from the then-Soviet Union.

The goals of the Marshall Plan were to, “…rebuild war-devastated regions, remove trade barriers, modernize industry, and make Europe prosperous again,”  which sounds suspiciously like NAFTA and the new ominous TPP, doesn’t it?

The point I’m making by shedding light on the roots of OECD and the attention they pay to test scores around the world is simply that they are yet another entity that regurgitates data to serve the “free market,” or my new favorite term, “casino capitalism” (h/t Dr. Henry Giroux).  We have to take any of these data results with a grain of salt; still, they can be an indicator of what’s happening in our classrooms.  But just an indicator.  Don’t get carried away and start closing schools with this stuff…

Long story short,

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On the different yard stick for some Comments Off

On the different yard stick for some

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Race and class

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a few interactions with folks who swear up and down that they’re not racists but who can’t admit that things just aren’t what they seem.

One of the most frustrating things, as a working-class woman of color, is to hear from people you care about that you’re “overreacting” when expressing feelings about issues regarding race and/or class privilege. The common theme is that I’m just looking for something to fight about, or that I have severely misjudged the person/institution and that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill.

Statements such as those are immediately privileged, because they (a) say that my concerns aren’t important; and (b) the same courtesy that would be afforded to someone else (i.e.; politely listening instead of refuting) can’t be offered to me because of the topic.

Even though I was raised as a Latina by immigrant parents, I do have some experience navigating in an Anglo world. My understanding of “conventional” courtesy is when someone is talking about an issue that is troubling, the listener waits patiently, perhaps offers some words of consolation or empathy but doesn’t try to shame the speaker into admitting that he or she is totally wrong. That would be considered rude and possibly confrontational in the dominant culture, right? So why is it that when many people of color broach topics relating to privilege, we’re automatically overreacting?

I think privilege itself causes normally kind and gentle people to circle their wagons around their own.

But what is this thing called privilege? And how is it different from racism? I’ll give my own perspective here. Privilege is benefiting from systems designed to support your success. For example, take the “it’s who you know” approach to networking for jobs. Because non-minorities are already in positions of influence within companies, people in their circles can take advantage of those relationships. If you’re not in that person’s circle, you can’t.

The biggest challenge we’re going to have in any policy arena, be it public education, economics or anything else, is for those who have the privilege of not worrying about inequity to be humble enough to allow the voices of those who suffer inequity to speak and be heard.  Non-minorities, to a great extent, need to learn how to be allies.

Here are some resources, although some might be hard to stomach.  Suck it up and learn.

 

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About the election (or, he who knocks on the most doors, wins) 0

About the election (or, he who knocks on the most doors, wins)

Posted by on Nov 24, 2013 in Board of Education, Community, Politics

I just thought I’d share a few observations about this past election.  Of course, everyone knows by now that the board elections were swept by the pro-corporate reform candidates, which now brings the count to 6-1 in favor of such free market-based philosophy for public education.

It is what it is.

One can’t really look at this outcome and declare a mandate for the free-market side without also taking the Amendment 66 implosion into consideration, though.

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I’m not running for re-election 15

I’m not running for re-election

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Board of Education

After much heart-wrenching deliberation, I have decided not to run for a second term as the southwest representative on the Denver Board of Education. I believe that high-stakes standardized testing is destroying public education today. Simultaneously, giant dollars from outside Denver, and outside Colorado flood into local school board races. In good conscience, I will not continue to be a part of this system.

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